Lung transplant survivors and those awaiting transplant surgery gathered in Fredericton on Saturday for an annual lunch to support one another and share their stories.
David Roberts — a five-time Ironman participant with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which compromises his breathing — is one of those survivors.
“I went through IPF exasperation, which means it got worse very quickly, and I flew to Toronto and within four weeks I was transplanted,” Roberts said.
After his operation, he came back to New Brunswick but still had support from the hospital in Toronto.
“It’s called ‘easy call.’ If I was to call them on my phone, within three minutes they’d be back to me. They prescribe all the medications, they make all the adjustments in the blood tests so you’ve always got that umbilical cord back to Toronto, which is great security,” Roberts said.
It has now been seven months, and Roberts is in great health.
He attended the luncheon on Saturday to support people who need a lung transplant and also to talk about his experience.
Trevor Currie had a much different experience with his procedure than Roberts.
“I had my first transplant in 2012, and it didn’t go so well so I had to have a second one in 2015,” he said.
“I ended up with Hepatitis C because of my transplant.”
Doctors told Currie that they had lungs for him but that those lungs had Hepatitis C. He and his wife decided to take the chance and go ahead with the transplant.
“In January of 2015, a new drug had come out, which cured my Hepatitis C. I took one pill a day for three months, and it’s completely gone,” he said.
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Other attendees, like Randy Melansoe, are still waiting for a chance to have the surgery.
“About five years ago, they actually said I need to go up for a transplant,” Melansoe said.
“That’s why I’m here today — to ask questions (to) people that have actually been through it.”
Roberts says he sees his contribution to the luncheon as a way of paying it forward.
“These lungs I carry obviously aren’t mine so someone gave me that gift, and I would encourage others to consider the same gift,” he said.